Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mama? What's "Satire"?

Obama Scraps Idea of Billing Vets for Service-Related Injuries

A couple of days ago a friend forwarded an email to me, with the title "This Guy Is Nuts!".

My friend had (along with a dozen other people) received from a friend of his; THAT friend had (along with a dozen other people) received it from another friend. And so on and so on. I don't know how many people were sent the text of the email, but I do know one thing:

It wasn't true.

Here is (a very short sample) of the text that was sent:

Bad press, including major mockery of the plan by comedian Jon Stewart, led to President Obama abandoning his proposal to require veterans carry private health insurance to cover the estimated $540 million annual cost to the federal government of treatment for injuries to military personnel received during their tours on active duty. The President admitted that he was puzzled by the magnitude of the opposition to his proposal

The "quote" goes on to paint President Obama in an even worse light. And then the quote is followed by the comment:
I'm guessing that everyone, other than the 20-25 percent hardcore liberals in the US , will agree that this is another example of why Obama is the worst president in American history. Remind everyone over-and-over how this man thinks
Want to see the WHOLE Quote? Easy to do, you can go directly to the source, which would be

JOHN SEMMENS: Semi-News -- A Satirical Look at Recent News

... for March 21, 2009.

Did you get the title of the website? "...SATIRICAL..."

That doesn't mean that's what Obama said, that's just somebody deliberately twisting the situation for the sake of humor.

But the folks who are sending this out to their friends, and their friends friends, and their friends friends friends (I count over SIXTY people on the distribution lists I see, not counting my own email address as one of the recipients) -- they don't realize that this is a lie. They see the satire, but they just don't get it. They accept it as the truth because some good ol' boy they never heard of before said it, so they just mindlessly pass it on.

It took me less than one minute to discover that it was a lie. I googled "Obama Military Insurance" and came up with this SNOPES reference: and that article included a link to the original satirical article from the march 21, 2009, in the Arizona Conservative.

There was also an explanatory article in the Stars&Stripes ... they got it right.

Also in TRUTH OR FICTION ... they were also able to identify the basic premise (truth) and separate it from the satirical portion (fiction).

Obama's attempt to put some of the military expenses (medical insurance) off onto private insurance companies is bad enough, especially considering that he has since crammed national health insurance down our collective throats. But that was cancelled when it proved to be not only unpopular, but infeasible. The rest of the letter, and the Arizona Conservative satire article, was all made up. It was a lie, and was published just ten days before April Fools Day.
Get it?

But automatically buying into Satire as truth, and mindlessly, unthinkingly and irresponsibly passing it on to friends and families is not the best way to convince them that the American President is incompetent; instead it only suggests that we are incompetent, if we can't even check the validity of our second-hand accusations.

Unfortunately, there is a moral to this story (and I'm the guy who hates morality tales):

If you receive an email suggesting that somebody you don't like did something you don't like. don't just blindly pass it on to 37 of your most intimate friends. Instead, first check it out. At least look it up on GOOGLE (if you don't already know any reliable anti-urban-legend websites) and go to at least 2 or three referenced websites so you can get a better idea of the answer to this question:

Who is the fool here?

No comments: